Over three years, one small animal rescue raised nearly $4,000. And, it’s not involved asking anyone for money or to sell merchandise. What’s made it even better is that Dog Gone Rescue is in a rural area. So, it goes to show that location doesn’t matter. If you have a great cause, you can raise funds in a creative fundraiser. Anywhere.
Rural Animal Rescue Has a Lot of Great Stuff Going On
Janel McLain is the Director of Dog Gone Rescue, created in 2011. Janel is a wonderful activist for animal rights. She saw animals in need in her community. For instance, Janel saw animals without food or water, shelter, or tied to trees. And, it was because of those experiences that she decided to do something about it. So, Janel started to build dog and cat houses with straw, wood/metal, and shingled roofs. After finding a loving home for a stray dog, she decided to establish an animal rescue.
Since then, she’s recruited volunteers and foster families for the animals. And, it’s because of these awesome people, that Janel made an impact in her community. Because of it, what she’s learned is that, yes, one person can make a difference. Meaning, all anyone has to do is take action. And, with others, together they can make a greater difference.
Fun and Creativity in Animal Rescue Fundraising
Because Dog Gone Rescue is a small animal rescue, Janel and her supporters seek fun and creative ways to raise money. For example, when we reached out to her for this story, she was doing a hot doggie wash. So, she’s someone who is continually looking for ways to raise money. And, it was in one of those searches for creative fundraising ideas that she discovered shoe drive fundraising. She loved the idea because it meant she didn’t have to ask for money from people or businesses. And, she also thought the fact that there were zero to little out-of-pocket expenses was awesome. For her animal rescue, the only expense was in making shoe drive collection boxes instead of purchasing them, and the cost was minimal.
Also, she loved the idea that the gently worn, used and new shoes that she and her supporters collected would get sent to micro-entrepreneurs in developing countries. Thousands of people in these nations live in poverty. But, they’re not looking for a hand-out. Instead, what they want is the opportunity to help themselves. And so, for many people, they sell the shoes collected in shoe drive fundraisers. One of the best jobs in their communities is selling merchandise, especially shoes.
Volunteers & Businesses Made the Difference
About her wonderful supporters, Janel said, “We’re a small rescue so didn’t have many volunteers. Approximately six people helped pull this shoe drive off!” So, it was with those volunteers that Janel made their own shoe collection boxes. Then, they went around and asked businesses to support the cause by having a box at their establishment. After, volunteers checked the boxes at the businesses on a regular basis and brought the collected shoes to the animal rescue. When they gathered the shoes, Janel and her volunteers would sort, rubber-band, and bag the footwear. Leading shoe drive fundraising companies always pick up the bags of shoes from storage locations.
One of the great things about partnering with businesses for this animal rescue was that some of the companies have lots of employees. For instance, Bunn-o-Matic, Akins, Tractor Supply, True Value Hardware, and the factories had many shoes from their employees. But, Dog Gone Rescue also partnered with grocery stores, bowling alleys, banks, bars, hair salons, and schools. And, they collaborated with a community college as well as the local YMCA. These places have lots of families, events, activities, and—foot traffic. So, that’s one of the reasons for the fundraising success of this animal rescue. In other words, they thought about where people were bound to be visiting and placed collection boxes in those spots.
Promotion Was Important to Success
As for any fundraiser, promotion is essential. And, it was the case as well for this animal rescue. Janel promoted the shoe drive fundraiser through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Alignable. But, she also made sure to promote it on her site. Also, she issued a press release, and it picked up by the local paper. And, Janel went on a local radio show to speak about the fundraising event. In her rural community, not everyone has internet. So, Janel understood that to reach those people, she had to get on radio.
Another idea for promotion was the creation of the Shoe Drive Challenge. Here’s how that worked. Every person that donated a bag of 25 pairs of shoes entered in a drawing for a $25 Pet Smart Gift Card & Dog Gone Rescue t-shirt. And, someone did win the prize, which created buzz and fun. Finally, Janel took pictures of the storage unit from time to time of the bags. She would put these photos on Facebook to let people know the bag count. It helped people see the momentum. And, it reminded people about the animal rescue cause and the fact the shoes were going to people in developing nations in need of work.
In conclusion, in the three years that Janel and her animal rescue have been doing a shoe drive fundraiser, they’ve collected more than 10,300 pairs of shoes. And as she said to us, “WOW! For a small town of 7,000 people, that’s not too shabby.” More importantly, it’s been amazing to her and also to her animal rescue to help animals in need. In other words, when people understand that shoes can become currency for a good cause, they’ll step up and give their unwanted shoes.
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